Dean Foods' net income rose 37% for the fourth quarter of 2003 thanks to acquisitions, higher selling prices and a strong performance by subsidiary White Wave. For the entire year, the company doubled its net income and sales were up 2.1% to top $9 billion.

The Dallas-based processor said net income for the quarter totaled $86.5 million, or 54 cents per share, compared with $63.1 million, or 42 cents per share, in fourth quarter 2002.

"It was a really solid quarter across all of our business lines," said Cory Olson, Dean Foods' senior vice president and treasurer.

Dean Foods fully acquired White Wave, the Boulder-based soy producer, in 2002. For the most recent quarter, White Wave's volumes were up 42%, including a 41% increase in Silk soy milk, Olson said.

Net sales for the fourth quarter totaled $2.5 billion, an increase of 12% over the fourth quarter of 2002, due primarily to higher raw material costs that are passed on to customers in the form of higher selling prices, increased volumes at White Wave and the acquisitions of Melody Farms and Kohler Mix Specialties.

During the quarter that ended December 31, Dean Foods said along with an asset sales gain, it incurred one-time charges from restructuring costs and the closure of dairy plants. Omitting those items, the company said its earnings rose to $89.9 million, or 56 cents per share, compared with $75.5 million, or 49 cents per share, during the comparable quarter last year.

For the full-year, the company doubled its net income from $175.4 million, or $1.21 a share, in 2002 to $355.7 million, or $2.27 a share, in 2003. Sales increased 2.1% to $9.18 billion.

In 2004, Olson said the company should continue to get a strong performance from the fully acquired Horizon Organic Holding Corp. The company says Horizon's sales are expected to grow at a steady 20%.